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Taxpayers deserve better than bloated, backroom state budget, say Eulner and Piperno

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

In late June, the legislature approved the governor’s $50.6 billion budget, the largest in New Jersey history and a nearly $18 billion increase from last year. While there were some positives, overwhelmingly, this year’s budget fell short in providing real, substantial tax relief to New Jersey residents amidst rising gas prices, soaring inflation, and the highest property taxes in the country.

Like many who have followed New Jersey’s budget hearings this year, we found ourselves frustrated by the lack of transparency and appalled at the efforts to shut out the public from commenting. The document was not made publicly available until the day after it had passed through committee along party lines.

Sadly, this is business as usual in Trenton. Spending still exceeds revenue by millions, making it harder for people to stay in New Jersey to live, work, and raise a family. Our residents are already paying more than they can afford, and this budget will only make our state more unaffordable.

This is why we voted against the governor’s 2022 budget.

Earlier this year, we presented the legislative majority with a plan to provide real long-term relief to the people of New Jersey. Those requests were ignored. Instead, this budget features many missed opportunities to put money back in the pockets of New Jersey residents now.

We proposed tax relief that would return approximately $8 billion from taxpayers and help twice as many people as Murphy’s ANCHOR program, which won’t be delivered until 2023. We also co-sponsored efforts to stop the state from stealing municipal revenue through energy tax receipts and return property tax relief aid to municipalities - a concrete effort that would immediately result in lower property taxes.

Meanwhile, New Jersey estimates collecting $9 billion more than anticipated in over taxation. Still, instead of giving you your money back, they are okay giving just a sliver of that back in a rebate timed for next year’s elections.

Instead, this budget includes a ten-day “sales tax holiday” this summer for school supplies. And while we hoped for a more permanent solution to combat rising prices and out-of-control inflation, we nonetheless voted in favor of this bill to provide even a tiny fraction of much-needed relief to parents.

We also advocated for millions more in funding for our District 11 schools and called on the legislature to return aid after the S-2 school funding cuts. Both efforts were ignored. And despite the $9 billion surplus, our schools are still $600 million short of being fully funded, and even measures to increase childcare funding by $50 million were rejected.

Instead, funding for mental health, childcare, and schools was attached to this bloated budget. They are obviously good programs that deserve sufficient funding but attaching them to an inflated multi-billion-dollar spending spree is disingenuous.

We called to halt the planned automatic January 1 toll increases and rescind a significant tax increase on the state’s largest health insurer and its customers. Instead, this budget will increase premiums and make car insurance more unaffordable for all.

These types of games are why we were elected to represent the 11th Legislative District in the first place and serve as a reminder of our commitment to making our state more affordable for you, your families, and the working and middle class.

You deserve a lower sales tax and lower income tax rates. You deserve fundamental, lasting changes to property taxes and fully funded schools. You deserve accountability from your elected officials. And you deserve real relief now.

Yours in service,

Kim and Marilyn

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